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ProgramsThis page is currently under construction. If you have information about prison programs that work please submit it to:firstname.lastname@example.org
Please put "PRISONS" in the subject line.
No program is ever going to have a 100% success rate, but these programs and others like them across the country are proving that the traditional prison setting is not the best way to cut crime, cut costs, and keep society safe. We cannot afford to lock up every offender for the rest of his/her life, nor do we have a right to. It is in our best interests then, to expand and develop more programs like these.
AN EXPANDED WORK RELEASE PROGRAM
For a program to work, it has to address the factors that played a part in sending an inmate to prison. In addition, the program must devise strategies to help prisoners transition back into society. The next few paragraphs outline an expanded work release program that would provide treatment, counseling, training, education and experiences that would help a prisoner do just that.
Parole officers will be assigned to Work Release Units, and will begin working with their assigned inmates the day they move to the unit. Together they will form a team that will assess the inmate's needs in these areas: Education, Job Skills/Readiness, Conflict Resolution/Anger Management Issues, need for Alcohol and Drug Treatment, Conditions Imposed by the Courts, Budgetary Demands, Life Skills, and Personal Goals for the Future.
The inmate and his PO will use this need's assessment to develop an individualized plan for the inmate to follow. The plan will be updated periodically to reflect progress.
As soon as an inmate has adequate skills, he/she will start looking for a job. Work release Units are usually more pleasant places to do a prison sentence, so inmates are highly motivated to find a job. They usually have great work attendance records too, because it is better to go to work than sit around the unit all day. Prospective employers are aware of this fact, and are inclined to hire work release inmates.
The next step will be to write a budget. The inmate and his/her PO will list fines, restitution, court costs, and traffic tickets he/she has been ordered to pay. If the inmate has lost his/her driver's license, the reinstatement fees will be added in as well. I know several people whose parole or probation has been violated because they were caught driving with a suspended license. I think it would be better to negate the possibility of that kind of technical violations by getting the license reinstated before release.
The inmate will also pay room and board, send support to his family if appropriate, and start saving some money toward release.
Each inmate's actual release date will be determined by two things; the sentence imposed by the court, and by the progress he/she is making on his/her rehabilitation plan. When an inmate is nearing the release date, he/she will work with the PO to develop a release plan.
A key part of that plan will be determining where the inmate will live. If he/she has a stable home to return to, the plan will be based on that home. If not, the inmate will find a place to live, pay deposits, have the utilities turned on, and pay rent. Closer to the release date, he/she will stock the cupboards, put some clothes in the closet, and start moving in whatever possessions he/she may have.
In order to accomplish all of this, the inmate will probably have been working at his/her job for several months. He/she will have started making some friends at work. Since people who work generally commit less crimes that those who don't, these new friends may help the inmate develop a new lifestyle upon release.
This type of program will balance the need to keep society safe against the wisdom of giving offenders skills to stay out of prison once they get out. Of course, some ex-convicts will return to their old habits, because they have no desire to change. Wouldn't it be nice if that number was 15% instead of 30, 40 or 50%. Our tax dollars could begin supporting schools again, repair the potholes, feed the hungry, and set up programs for prevention before we start another generation of criminals who don't have the skills to live life in any other manner.
For more information go to ...after seventeen years..., a website set up to follow the programs and prison conditions nationally to help inmates and their loved ones better understand how to deal with the convoluted workings of the prison system before, during, and after incarceration.